Marriages that are invalid due to fraud can be annulled. Discover the truth about marriage annulment and how you can get your marriage annulled.
Many Americans know 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.
But what happens when a spouse has a legitimate reason to end the marriage? People who prove they were misled into a marriage can have it annulled.
Why an Annulment?
Ending a marriage is not easy. But an annulment can get you out of the relationship without the paper trail of a divorce.
With an annulment, your marriage disappears from the records as if it never existed. Also, depending on the state where your marriage took place, you and your spouse will not have to divide property.
Those who make more than their spouses might want an annulment so they don’t have to pay alimony.
However, if you have children, you might have to create a custody agreement. The same kind of agreement is true if you have a lot of assets.
An annulment also works for religious people who would rather not have the “stigma” of a divorce.
Grounds for Annulment
Although an annulment might seem a better option than divorce, it’s not easy to meet the grounds. Each state has specific requirements. Most require you to prove at least one of the following:
You can get an annulment if you prove your spouse misled you or committed fraud. For example, if you discover your spouse married you just to get a “green” card.
Claiming you want children when you don’t can also be cause for annulment, as is saying you’re able to have them but can’t.
Physical or Mental Incapacity
If a spouse was not in their right mind to consent to a marriage, that can justify an annulment. For example, someone who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if the spouse has a mental disability.
The court can also grant an annulment if the couple does not consummate the marriage, either because one of the parties can’t have intercourse or refuses to. If you prove you were unaware of these circumstances, the court will grant your annulment.
Other reasons include:
- One of the parties was underage
- The marriage was the result of a joke
- Bigamy or polygamy
- Failure to disclose a felony, addiction or mental illness
- Failure to mention children from prior relationships
The grounds for annulment vary depending on the state, so you might want to check with them.
When Can You File for Annulment?
Depending on the state, you may or may not have a time limit to file for an annulment. Some states let you file for an annulment any time after you discover the problem.
With states such as Colorado, you must file for annulment within six months after you discover the fraud or problem. There are other rules depending on the severity of the issue.
How Much Does an Annulment Cost?
Annulments tend to cost much less than a divorce. Divorces tend to be expensive since couples must pay attorneys and attend multiple hearings. They also must pay filing and court fees.
Unless one of the parties contests the annulment, most people who seek an annulment only pay filing and court fees. An annulment tends to cost around $500 but some might go as high as $5,000 or more.
If you think you need help to file for an annulment, enlist the aid of an attorney. Hiring an attorney might cost more money, but it increases your chances to get the annulment approved.
Pros and Cons
Although annulments might seem too good to be true for people who want to end their marriage without divorce, they have pros and cons:
As we mentioned, an annulment completely voids the marriage. So if and when you get married again, you don’t have to disclose the marriage.
As with any separation, children are usually the most affected. Getting an annulment won’t affect the legitimacy of the children born in the marriage. The court will also decide custody of the children at the time of the annulment.
An annulment will also help the parties keep their assets. Since it’s an annulment and not a divorce, there should be no fight over assets and alimony. Some courts might require a spouse to pay alimony until the annulment is final.
An annulment also has its challenges. Primarily, it can be quite difficult to prove you qualify for one.
If you think you have legitimate grounds for an annulment, familiarize yourself with the filing deadlines. You might need to hire an attorney to prove your claim.
Questions for an Attorney
If you think you might qualify for an annulment, you can always check with an attorney to make sure you have a strong case.
Ask if an annulment will impact child support or custody. Must you file within a certain time frame in your state?
Do you have more time to file depending on the grounds for annulment? “I plan to move, will that affect my annulment process?”
How is a church annulment seen in the eyes of the law? How will an annulment affect the children in the marriage?
All of those are great questions to ask an attorney if you decide to hire one to help you with the annulment.
The Bottom Line
Getting a marriage annulment can help spouses avoid divorce when they were misled into a marriage. Although it’s difficult to prove, an annulment will help get you a clean break.